Chess board setup by The School Of Rook

Once you learn how to set up a chessboard, you’ll never place the pieces incorrectly ever again.

In fact, you’ll start observing the countless number of times the movies get it wrong. They either inaccurately set up the chessboard or randomly place the chess pieces on the board.

To get started, we’ll first learn about the chessboard and its pieces in brief before jumping on to the chessboard setup.

The Chess Board

The chessboard has 64 squares of alternating colors. That means there are 32 squares of one color and 32 squares of another color.

Traditionally, the squares in the chessboard were black and white in color. But now, you’ll see chess boards in various color combinations.


White squares are called light squares, and black squares are called dark squares.

Chess Pieces

Chess pieces, or chessmen, are the objects you move on the board. There are 32 chess pieces, out of which 16 belong to white and the other 16 to black.

Each team has the following chess pieces:

  • Eight pawns
  • Two knights
  • Two bishops
  • Two rooks
  • One queen
  • One king

Spend some time identifying chess pieces before you move on to setting up the chessboard.

How to Set up a Chess Board

To set up a chessboard correctly, follow these steps in order:

  1. Place the chessboard so that the bottom-right square is a light square. Remember “white on the right.”
  2. Set up white pawns on the second rank and black pawns on the seventh rank.
  3. Put the rooks on the four corners of the board.
  4. Place the knights next to the rooks.
  5. Bishops go next to the knights.
  6. The queen goes on the same color square. This means the black queen goes on a black square and the white queen goes on a white square.
  7. The king will stand on the remaining square between the queen and the bishop.

That’s it! Now, it’s white’s turn to play.

How to place chess pieces correctly

Set up the chessboard correctly

The first step is to orient the chessboard correctly. Make sure that the bottom-right square is a light color square.

It’s important that you position the board this way for uniformity. Memorize the “white is on the right” mnemonic if you find it difficult to remember.

Place the Pawns

There are 16 pawns on a chessboard. So setting them up first helps declutter the stack of chess pieces.

The pawns are the first line of defense, and that’s why they go in front of the larger pieces. The white pawns go on the second rank, and the black pieces go on the seventh rank.

Place the Rooks

The rooks’ position is easiest to remember as they go on the four corners of the chessboard. Like towers in a castle, rooks defend the walls and are placed at the corners.

The white rooks go on the first rank at a1 and h1 squares, and the black rooks on the eighth rank at a8 and h8 squares.

rooks on the chessboard

Place the Knights

Next comes the knights. Knight, the piece with a horse’s head as its top, is placed next to the rook.

The white knights go on the first rank at b2 and g2 squares, and the black knights go on the eighth rank at b8 and g8 squares.

knights on the chessboard

Place the Bishops

Bishops go right beside the knights. They stand in between the knights and the royal pair.

The white bishops go on the first rank at c2 and f2 squares, and the black bishops on the eighth rank at c8 and b8 squares.

Each team has a bishop who stands on a white square called the light color bishop, and the other bishop on a black square called the dark color bishop.

bishop on the chessboard

Place the Queens

The queen goes in the center square of its color. An easy way to remember is the queen stands on the square that matches her dress.

So the white queen stands on the white square, and the black queen stands on the black square. The white queen goes on the first rank at d1 square, and the black queen goes on the eighth rank at d8 square.

queen on the chessboard

Place the Kings

There’s only one square for the king to go at this point. It stands in between the queen and bishop.

The white king stands on the center black square at e1, while the black king stands on the center white square at e8.

king on the chessboard

What’s after setting up chessboard?

Now that you’ve set up the chessboard, it’s time to play! Remember that white starts the game.

You can also add a chess clock, i.e., a timer, to spice up the game. Timers are used in competitive chess, so using one will be a good practice if you plan on playing in tournaments.

If you want to know how each chess piece came into being and how to use it to its full potential, you can read our article on the history of chess.

Chessboard Setup FAQs

Position a chessboard in such a way that the right corner is a white color or light color square.

If your chessboard has numbers and letters, then the white side should have the ‘h’ letter and ‘1’ number on the rightmost square on the board.

Similarly, the black side should have the ‘a’ letter and ‘8’ number on the rightmost square on the board.

There are 64 squares on the chessboard. It’s an 8 x 8 grid.

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